The whole tragic art, then, is
to epic poetry what these later actors were compared to their predecessors, since
according to this view epic appeals to a cultivated audience which has no need of
actor's poses, while tragedy appeals to a lower class. If then it is vulgar, it must
obviously be inferior.
First of all, this is not a criticism of poetry but of
acting: even in reciting a minstrel can overdo his gestures, as Sosistratus did, or
in a singing competition, like Mnasitheus of Opus.1
Besides it is
not all attitudinizing that ought to be barred any more than all dancing, but only
the attitudes of inferior people. That was the objection to Callippides; and modern
actors are similarly criticized for representing women who are not ladies.
Moreover, tragedy fulfils its
function even without acting, just as much as epic, and its quality can be gauged by
reading aloud. So, if it is in other respects superior, this disadvantage is not
Secondly, tragedy has all the elements of the
epic—it can even use the hexameter— and in addition a considerable element of its own in the
spectacle and the music, which make the pleasure all the more vivid; and this vividness can be felt whether it is
read or acted.